It’s an invasion of goldfinches… and pine siskins, and red polls and warblers and lots of other birds too lately! With the extreme cold weather, thistle feeders are being emptied at record rates, even Atlanta saw some of the white stuff, with more expected on Tuesday.
Birds seem ravenous around all of the feeders, and rightly so – it’s freakin’ freezing out there! With blustery winds and 12 degree temps a few days ago, my hands were not only numb… they actually hurt upon finishing the A.M. feeding routine. Placing them over a hot burner on the stove, then under hot water, I felt fairly sure it was frostbite 🙁
So how do they do it? Fragile, tiny little birds surviving the most frigid conditions, day in and day out? I don’t know! Looking like puff balls, their feathers do trap heat for one survival tactic, and if they constantly eat all day, they’re able to store enough calories (energy) to hold them through the night. And yes, they can eat snow but it takes energy to convert it to liquid. Their daily struggle’s got to get old in these brutal winter conditions? Cardinals, bluebirds, woodpeckers, phoebes, a lone mockingbird, chipping sparrows and all the other usual suspects abound… and yet with snow on the ground!
But it’s really just instinct when you think about it. Mother Nature equips all beings with this basic survival mode. She also equips some of us with the lunacy that the birds won’t make it unless you put food out twice a day… and have 3 heated birdbaths readily available 🙂 But we do it not only for the birds, but for our own satisfaction of feeling like we helped, and the simple joy derived from watching them.
Keep feeders filled (and clean). Larger than normal bird populations crowding feeders is one way disease is spread.
Offer fresh water, birds will flock to a heated bath. You can purchase a heater separately and add it to your existing bath or even a shallow pan of water.
Put out extra suet, easily make your own, form into cakes for suet cages, or crumbles for platform or dish feeders. High fat foods that are easy to digest serve birds well in freezing weather.
Peanuts are ideal, as is plain old peanut butter. We smear some right on a tree trunk! Nuthatches, woodpeckers and warblers love it.
Add an extra thistle sock for the crowds of finches. Relatively inexpensive, the black mesh thistle feeders are stronger and generally more durable than most.
Stay safe and warm… and please feed the birds 🙂
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